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Monday Morning Notes
January 9, 2012
from the desk of Chuck Violand... 


Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—  

             While the rewards of being the CEO of a company are many, there are also risks that accompany the position.
             In Part V of this series on CEO responsibilities I highlight a few of the more prominent pitfalls you’ll want to avoid
 


Enjoy!
Chuck

 




BELCHING AT THE TABLE, Part V
by Chuck Violand... 

            In the previous four parts of this Monday Notes series I highlighted several of the responsibilities of a CEO. While there are significant rewards that come along with these responsibilities, there are also pitfalls successful CEO’s are constantly vigilant to avoid.  
            We can forget what it’s like to be an employee. Some time ago I was having dinner with clients, a husband and wife, and we were discussing their company. The husband was expressing frustration with his employees when his wife made a highly insightful comment. “It’s been too long since you’ve been an employee”, she said, commenting on the fact that it had become nearly impossible for her husband to view business decisions from an employee’s perspective. She was right on the mark.  
            When you’ve owned your own business for a long time, or when you’ve only worked in a family business, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be an employee in a small company. We tend to overlook the impact even seemingly minor decisions regarding work schedules, compensation, or job responsibilities can have on our people.
            While our decisions might be based on what we perceive as benefiting the entire company, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that our people are our company.
            We set our sights too low. Because we operate largely in an isolated environment it’s easy to fall into the trap of setting our sights only on targets we’re comfortable hitting. As Warren Buffet says, “The boss shoots the arrow and then hastily paints the bull’s eye around the spot where it lands”. 
            Sometimes we get lulled into mediocrity simply by not knowing what’s possible. Running a mile in less than four minutes was considered impossible (even fatal) until Roger Bannister beat it by six tenths of one second in May of 1954. Human heart transplants were also considered impossible until Dr. Christiaan Barnard successfully performed the first one in December 1967. Now both feats are considered commonplace.
            The critical question CEO’s want to ask themselves isn’t just how well they’re doing their job. It’s asking how well are the best CEO’s doing their jobs and what can I do to perform better? Roger Bannister was a world class runner and Dr. Barnard was a highly respected heart surgeon BEFORE they attempted their “impossible” feats. What could we as CEO’s accomplish if we set our sights on the “impossible?”
            We can become arrogant. When things go right we’re quick to take the credit, even if we don’t say it out loud. After all, we’re the CEO. It’s when things go poorly that we never seem to be at a loss to point the blame to other people or outside influences.
            As I’ve written before strengths can become weaknesses and weaknesses can begin to matter. The successes that lead to our confidence can breed arrogance. When left unchecked our arrogance can then threaten our success.
            When the people whose pay checks we sign are reluctant to belch about our performance as CEO it isn’t always because we’re doing a world class job. It may have more to do with not wanting to threaten the boss…or their employment. At the end of the day, regardless of the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with and on whose opinions we count it is our job to hold ourselves accountable for our own superior performance.    


C.
 

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